Saturday, 31 August 2013

Update on quilt censorship

I thought I'd write another posting just to let you know that I've heard from Mancuso.

They will not return the quilt before the end of the planned showing.

They say they have not had a complaint, but had always planned to show the quilt in a booth right from the start. It was never planned to show it out in the open. 

" We made a decision, not due to any complaint, to have your artwork displayed in a separate booth with plenty of space for private viewing and not just behind a black curtain as described."

This had apparently been discussed with the UK organizer and agreed. Mancuso thought I'd been consulted, but no one mentioned it to me at any point. I  wouldn't have let the quilt go if that was the option.

To me it's still censorship. Mancuso says it isn't. They say....

"Perhaps other groups or exhibitions that may have juried out this work in the past took the easy road and censored your work at the point of jurying, but we decided to include it."

And finally, 

"Annabel, when Michelangelo completed The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel in 1541, it was the talk of Rome. It caused much controversy and only a few years later Pope Paul IV and the Council of Trent decided to completely paint over and create a new fresco. However, another level-headed Renaissance artist stepped in and convinced the Pope to paint in the now infamous fig leaves. This story has become a large part of art history and is still talked about more than 450 years later.

Perhaps Peter & I will remove the “fig leaves” and exhibit your artwork at the next venue out in the open."

There is nothing I can do to get my quilt back early. The hanging was agreed before sending - just not with me!  Whether or not the quilt goes back behind the curtaining, is largely up to you America.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Update on quilt censorship in the States.

I have to say a tremendous thank you to the many many emails, and comments left on this blog, Laura's blog, and Facebook pages.  I understand that it went viral and is still causing concern and indignation in places all around the world. It's been talked about on Yahoo groups, Quilt chat forums and even by publishers and writers of our best quilting magazines and 2 Quilters Guilds.

I thought you might like an update.  I'd love to give you one, but as yet I have had no reply from Mancuso at all despite sending two requests for the return of the quilt; not an acknowledgment, courtesy email, nothing.

What I have had is one or two emails from the UK organizer for Mancuso, who says, and I quote:

I am sure that for future shows the present issue can be resolved amicably between you and the Mancusos. The entry rules which you have signed do state that the quilt must be available for all four quilt shows and must be shipped and returned through the International Coordinator, (me in this case). 
My reply:

Well, I'm still waiting to hear from the Mancusos. Nothing can be resolved amicably unless they get in touch.  There may well be wriggle room - we're getting into legal speak here and I suspect I could argue that putting a quilt behind a black cloth isn't putting a quilt on "display."  
 So, do you think I'll get a reply from Mancuso?  Do you think there might be an apology or a moments concern for the artists feelings or wishes? Do you think they'll carry on regardless and just send the quilt back when they've finished?  
I only entered this quilt because the organizer sent out an email asking for entrants because the show was low on entries.   I wanted to support the UK.  I won't do it again, and I would urge everyone thinking of sending to this show, to act with caution.  We have to sign these forms if we wish to enter competitions, and we probably all know we shouldn't do so if we're not happy, but we take a chance and hope that those involved will be reasonable and considerate if there's a problem.   Is the $1,000 prize money really worth that much these days when quilts - if you add up the cost of materials and hours in making them - can cost more than that to make anyway??

Be very aware of what you're signing away; they're a business,  and your worth is perhaps only expressible in dollar signs.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Grrrr. Censored in World Quilt by Mancuso

Apparently you can now only view my quilt currently touring the States behind a black curtain.

Nobody had the good manners to tell me of course. I have written to ask for it back.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Answering the question..... why naked?

I have been pondering, as you do in quiet moments, some of the things that people have said to me.  One reasonably well known quilter from America came up to me at Festival of Quilts, and said that whilst she didn't like or approve of my using naked bodies, "I got away with it" because of the text, and she had to admit they were well done. Slightly grudging I thought but each to their own; she also said something about her body being for her husband only, and perhaps her inference was that I was in someway odd for not thinking the same. So, probably time to explain again.

Why naked?

Well, why not naked?  Life painting and drawing is an acceptable part of fine art, and museums and art galleries around the world are of full of naked bodies painted by some of the world’s best painters. The Vatican for example is full of the works of Michelangelo and Raphael. From the artists point of view, it’s a difficult exercise to paint the human body with its complex musculature, foreshortenings, proportions, and subtle colourings, and is a fascinating challenge to try and get right.

When we wear clothes we do so not only for protection and modesty, but also as a statement about ourselves. We use clothes to show our ethnicity, our wish to belong to a certain group or tribe, (Goths, Hells Angels, or maybe just in admiration of a pop group, celebrity, or athlete) We have developed a constantly changing fashion, and some of us have a need to be in the latest colour or style, and we just  feel better about ourselves when we think we look nice. We use clothes to attract the opposite sex, or make ourselves look interesting. Sometimes the opposite applies and we may choose to dress in a very conservative way, or a dishevelled way, purposefully to avoid attraction or indeed repel others! We may wish to say that we have reached a certain standard in life and are beyond frippery and are hard working and sensible.  Reliable or expensive. We wear clothes as a uniform of age.

I wish to take away all those assumptions and prejudices and look at the human being underneath in it’s true and natural state.  Each quilt tells a story about the person depicted, and the text is blistered and ingrained into the skin, and then painted over with acrylics. The person and the story become one. The text is intentionally difficult to read, but not impossible.  I do not want the image to exist only to illustrate the text, but to be a subtle extra layer; one you have to look for.  I feel as if I am whispering my story to you and not shouting.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Now, where were we?

Now, where were we before Festival of Quilts happened?!

It's taken a week or so to get sorted, pack up and send back quilts to various corners of the world, and also have a couple of days off to recharge the batteries. But I'm back in the groove and have been trying to pick up where I left off with Life 9.

I'd left it in an odd state so that visitors to foq could see the constructions processes - I thought that might be fun - but I've begun sorting it out, and have now finished all the stitching on the body (nb much easier to do this before the rest of the quilt is painted especially if you have a tiny machine to try and squash the quilt into!)

I've also been working on the panels to the right of the model, and thoroughly enjoyed painting an eye for one of them.  I used to hate doing eyes, but now I think they're the best thing ever!!  Here it is, not quite finished.

If you look at the panel the writing explains a chance meeting, a meeting between two strangers,
and without words. A connection made with eyes only; fleeting but connected.  The eye I hope stares at you and has a faint intense look- not a smile, not anger, nothing except a deep look into what is in your heart.  Or am I waxing too lyrical for 9.30 on a Tuesday morning?

Monday, 12 August 2013

Festival of Quilts - last day.

Thank you to all the lovely people who came to see the Through Our Hands gallery, curated by Laura Kemshall and myself.  It was a large gallery with 31 quilts on show.

There were 10 artists, out of the 14 who are on the website, exhibiting. Some of the quilts had been seen at our first exhibition in Leamington Spa (Oct 2012 to Jan 2103) but a large number were not only new to the show, but unseen in public before. A huge thank you to them as well, because their work was fantastic.

Above and to the right, an installation of a studio.  Laura and I put some bits and bobs together, including half eaten biscuits and old teabags.

It seemed a popular spot, and visitors were able to see Life 9's construction.

Below: work by Bethan Ash and Sandra Meech, and in the distance, Elizabeth Barton.

Finally, Laura, (very kindly!) took this snapshot of me in full flow, being interviewed about Through Our Hands by Debbie Shore. The TV/video is to be shown somewhere soon I think.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Day 2 at foq

Thanks to Laura for snapping this photo of the Through Our Hands gallery at Festival of Quilts.  She's very cleverly managed to get 4 of my quilts on one image! She has some more images of the stand on her blog.  Check out her latest piece - it's magnificent!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

and...I'm off!

For those of you who don't know, this week heralds the start of the UK's largest quilt festival, The Festival of Quilts.

It's held in the National Exhibition Centre, and it's huge.  It's in Birmingham which is central to England and is easy to get to.

There are lots of shopping opportunities (hurrah!) and lots to see for quilty bods and has been on my calendar most years.  This year is different though, because this year Laura Kemshall and I have a gallery.  We co-curate a website called Through Our Hands. Artists are invited to join, but it's not a group; there are no commitments, no meetings, no rules, and taking part in exhibitions is entirely voluntary.

We try and arrange these exhibitions in gorgeous galleries with large white wall spaces; we're simply trying to increase awareness of art quilts in the non-quilt world. You know me, I've been banging on about quilts being art for years, and just decided to stop moaning and do something about it, which is how the original exhibition came about.  I was so delighted when Laura said she would join me and share the work and the fun.

We're on Stand P2 which is opposite the Fine Art Quilt Masters stand so you can't miss us!  I shall be there for most of the four days (with a short break on Thursday. I'm being interviewed by Debbie Shore on TV which is not in the least bit nerve racking....indeed, has hair done, wears make up, sucks in tum, does yogic breathing and visits the loo many times.  I'm on at 3 o'clock apparently)

The artists for this exhibition (and the artists will vary at each exhibition although they will always be under the banner of Through Our Hands) are:  Alicia Merrett, yours truly, Bethan Ash, Laura Kemshall, Linda Kemshall, Eszter Bornemisza, Elizabeth Barton, Elizabeth Brimelow, Dijanne Cevaal, and Sandra Meech.

There's lots of work you won't have seen before and that wasn't at the original exhibition in Leamington Spa and we hope you like it.  I can tell you now, that the entrance will be flanked by two wonderful new quilts by Laura Kemshall and Linda Kemshall - really amazing work. There will also be sstonking new work by Bethan Ash, Dijanne Cevaal, Eszter Bornemisza, Elizabeth Brimelow, and Sandra - which is just about everyone!!

Tomorrow is set up day, which means an early start and a very careful pack of the car.  Not only is it going to be difficult to get it all in, but at least two of the quilts are very delicate...I could do with a butler or someone useful whose job it would be just to look after them!

Having never done this at foq before I'm not sure what to expect, but the organizers have been very good, asking us how we wanted the layout of the space, and accommodating our requests for electric points and bars from ceilings etc. So it sounds ok doesn't it,but let's hope so!! Fingers crossed please.

So, the blog will be a little quiet for a few days, but I will report back soon with lots of photos and a video if I can for those that can't make it.  If you can make it and see me there, please come and introduce yourself. 

Friday, 2 August 2013

You might know that I like to garden a bit.  I wouldn't like you to think that because I'm always talking about it and showing photos of the park we help look after that I'm in some way an expert.  I'm not!  I'm not bad at weilding the secateurs and am reasonable with a spade, but am inclined to make up names for plants as I go know.......biggus leafus horizontalis varigatum. 

I'm especially poor with houseplants (nb, if you're reading Linda, I'd like to say that the unamed specimen with pink flowers you kindly donated to Chez Rainbow, is still with us - but has it's bags packed and is waiting for the taxi)

However, this beauty is defying the odds!  Look, it's actually flowering.

The leaves are very dramatic, and those flowers on the long stems are worth a drawing or two I think!

Life 9 will be with me at Festival of Quilts on the Through Our Hands stand (P2) which is opposite Fine Art Quilt Masters.  Do come and say hello.  She's in an unfinished state on purpose so you can see how the lettering is done and the difference between the painted quilt and the non-painted. Just for fun!

I'm on the stand the whole time except at about 3pm for an hour on Thursday.